[MissoulaGov] Committee update 6-20-07

Jim McGrath jmcgrath at missoulahousing.org
Thu Jun 21 08:41:25 MDT 2007

Thanks Bob.

The crazy part is that he says the only place the city can regulate the
rental business would be at the property manager's office, where the
business takes place. He defines the rental unit as not a business and
therefore not subject to the licensing.

It seems similar to considering a semi not a commercial vehicle because
the exchange of money happens at the warehouse.


From: Bob Jaffe [mailto:bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us]
Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2007 8:34 AM
To: Jim McGrath; missoulagov at cmslists.com
Subject: RE: [MissoulaGov] Committee update 6-20-07

Here is that decision:


From: Jim McGrath [mailto:jmcgrath at missoulahousing.org]
Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2007 8:31 AM
To: bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us; missoulagov at cmslists.com
Subject: RE: [MissoulaGov] Committee update 6-20-07


A quick note about rental licensing.

First, good luck. I committed a lot of time to that in my years with
little result. I do recommend hooking up with MTPIRG, ASUM and the UM
rental housing folks to help make anything you come up with more
effective. The best idea I had (never implemented) was to have some sort
of "certification" system, like green products, so that the good
landlords -who paid a fee for an inspection-could see some added value.
ASUM/MTPIRG could maintain a list and renters could search for
"certified" versus "at-your-own-risk" landlords. But in a low-vacancy
market, not much choice is out there.

I urge you to read the judge's opinion when zapping the city's licensing
ordinance. It is unbelievable. It's been a while since I read it, so I
don't remember it much except that part of the ruling seemed pretty
crazy. Unfortunately, since it was a legal decision, it is now law.


From: missoulagov-bounces at cmslists.com
[mailto:missoulagov-bounces at cmslists.com] On Behalf Of Bob Jaffe
Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2007 8:15 AM
To: missoulagov at cmslists.com
Subject: [MissoulaGov] Committee update 6-20-07

Good Morning,

We had a very interesting day yesterday. More substance than usual.

At 8:30 we took up the issue of rental safety that Jon Wilkins brought
up at the council meeting a few weeks ago. The idea is to try to come
up with ways to improve some of the substandard housing in Missoula. A
few years ago Missoula started licensing landlords. The landlord
association or some such group sued the city and won. According to state
law municipalities are specifically not allowed to 'license landlords or
to regulate their activities with regard to tenants beyond what is
provided in 70.24.25(landlord tenant act).' But it also says 'this
subsection is not intended to restrict a local government's ability to
require landlords to comply with ordinances or provisions that are
applicable to all other businesses or residences within the local
government's jurisdiction.'

So Nugent was careful to point out that we shouldn't create a new policy
that specifically applies to landlords. We are looking at the idea of
creating a voluntary program where a property owner (not necessarily a
landlord) can request that their building be certified as 'up to code.'
This could be used in advertising and whatnot to help promote their
property. There are a few obvious problems with this idea. The main one
is that in a rental market with so few vacancies there is not a lot of
incentive for a landlord to bother with something like this. Without
some other type of licensing revenue there will need to be a fee for
this service. For a program like this to be successful there would need
to be a good amount of advertising to create a demand from renters for
the certification. This of course would also take money.

I still want to look into the issue of licensing to find out why that
failed last time. It seems to me that we license and inspect all other
businesses in the city so we should be able to do that with landlords.

We set up a subcommittee to do the research and develop some kind of

Then we had our Committee of the Whole meeting to take up the Iraq
resolution referred by Stacy and I. Here is the referral:


The discussion focused mainly on whether it was our place to make any
statement on the subject of Iraq. Mr. Wilkins spoke about being a
Vietnam vet and how this was a very sensitive subject we had no right to
talk about and then stomped out of the room. Mr. Hendrickson argued that
the right place for the voters to make such a statement would be in
their choices in the 2008 federal elections. Jack voiced concerns that
this in some small way may cause harm to our troops overseas. Dave, Ed,
Stacy, Marilyn, and I argued in favor of the motion. My take on it is
that the Iraq war has a great deal to do with Missoula, Montana. Our
police and fire departments have staff over there; the federal moneys we
depend on are greatly reduced to help fund the war; our citizens will be
paying off the war debt for a generation; we have many families and
businesses that are missing loved ones and employees; and many of our
citizens feel they have a moral obligation to make a statement about the

There is clearly a trend for local communities to take the lead on
issues where the federal government is not responsive. This is seen more
and more with environmental standards, clean fuels, and greenhouse gas
reductions. I would like to see Missoula join the 300 or so communities
that have already passed resolutions or referendums regarding the war.

Mr. Nugent pointed out that the language of the referendum needs to draw
out how this affects us locally. So we will need to edit this some
before Monday. All of the people who came to committee to speak were in
favor of the resolution. Considering the reluctance of half the council
to support something like this it may be worthwhile to have a public
hearing to help assess the sentiment of the community. I think there is
overwhelming support for putting this on the ballot.

Public Works was split up into two meetings. In the morning we took up
the extension of the SafePats deal to sell the city shops property on
Broadway to St. Pats so they can trade it with Safeway for the property
next to the hospital. The project has evolved reasonably well. This will
be what Safeway calls a "lifestyle store." That means it will be a more
upscale version of a supermarket trying to draw in some of the ambiance
of the good food store as opposed to schlock of Walmart. Between the
lawsuit and other complications that delayed the project they still need
more time to get the details wrapped up. We voted to give them another

I think it was PAZ next with a discussion of the Joseph Residence up in
the Rattlesnake. This was an old nursing home which was converted into
transitional housing for the homeless and managed by the Poverello. That
program no longer operates out of that facility. The housing authority
owns it and put together a deal with Missoula Children's theater to use
it for temporary housing for visiting actors. They also intended to use
it for families visiting the community for extended hospital stays like
the Ronald McDonald house. But they want the PUD zoning to have
underlying R8 zoning in case those plans don't work out and they need to
develop the property. From the sound of it, those plans may well not
work out. Heidi voiced concern that the high level of neighborhood
support may have been predicated upon the relationship with MCT and we
better make sure folks are aware that this may become a traditional

The other matter in PAZ was the sale of our 'park' on Carter Court to
finance the development of Lafrae park. The sale got stalled at the
Board of Adjustment because it would increase the density in the
subdivision. Mr. Nugent gave arguments why they indeed had the authority
to approve the project but a majority of BOA members didn't agree with
our attorney. Rather than fight the BOA in court the project is being
structured as a PUD that will come before the council. The committee
had interest in seeing if Parks could find a way to go forward with the
park development this year with hopes of recovering the cost next year
when we sell the property.

We then reconvened Public Works for more discussion about Hillview Way.
The public works department had followed up on our request to find a way
to defer payment on the large undeveloped lots. If the owner of one of
these parcels wants to defer their payment, the city will pay for it out
of the SID revolving fund. At whatever time the property is sold or
developed, the owner will pay the assessment at a rate based on the
developed value of the land (with interest). The developed value will be
assessed now and a number pegged at the time of the deferment. It will
be about 50% more than the assessment would be if they just paid it on
the undeveloped land. This way, a large property owner who does not
have intentions of developing will not be forced to pay a huge
assessment. But if they take advantage of the deferment and later chose
to develop, they won't also be able to take advantage of a bare land

We finished the day with a couple of more hours of budget. We heard from
the building inspection department. It was refreshing to hear the
various ways they were trying to save money. I'm sure all of the
departments do this but it would be nice to hear from them what ideas
and changes they are implementing to be more efficient.

Thank you for your interest,

Bob Jaffe

Missoula City Council, Ward 3

bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us


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